Eastern Region Special Projects Committee Hosts Making the Jump to the Directors Chair

Making the Jump to the Director’s Chair

September 10, 2020 An Eastern Region Special Projects Committee Virtual Event

On September 10, the Eastern Region Special Projects Committee hosted the virtual panel discussion, Making the Jump to the Director’s Chair. The online event featured Directors Matthew McLoota (Billions), Jono Oliver (American Soul), Michael I. Smith (Law & Order: Criminal Intent) and J. Miller Tobin (Emergence), all of whom successfully made the journey from assistant directing to directing. In a conversation moderated by Director Michael Slovis (New Amsterdam), the panelists discussed how to take the steps necessary to move from running the set to running the show.

Following an introduction by Eastern Region Special Projects Committee Chair Raymond DeFelitta, Slovis welcomed the panel to dive into a discussion that covered subjects including: how to gain the respect of the crew and actors when transitioning from an AD to Director; their first experiences with editors and post production; and how and when to make your interest in directing known when working in a different capacity on a project.

Throughout the moderated portion of the event, the panelists also took questions from the online audience.

 See video from this event in the gallery below.


Michael Slovis Michael Slovis (moderator)
Slovis has worked as a producer/director with fellow key creative producers that developed the visual/audio languages and performance styles of Preacher and, currently, New Amsterdam. His directorial credits include episodes of The Walking DeadEdRubiconCSI: Crime Scene Investigation30 RockLaw & Order: SVUChicago FireChicago P.D., Hell on WheelsGrace PointElementaryBreaking BadGame of ThronesMan in the High CastleThe AffairThe New YorkerThe Path and The Looming Tower. Slovis has been a DGA member since 2003.

Matthew McLootaMatthew McLoota
McLoota’s directing credits include episodes of the Showtime series, Billions. Prior to his directing career, he was an Assistant Director with credits including feature films such as Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited, Wes Craven’s My Soul To Take and Reed Morano’s I Think We’re Alone Now; and episodes of The SinnerThe BlacklistElementaryLimitlessThe Big CGossip GirlUgly Betty and, Brotherhood. McLoota has been a DGA member since 2006.

Matthew McLootaJono Oliver 
Oliver’s directing credits include the independent feature film, Home; and episodes of American SoulLincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone CollectorLaw & Order: SVU and The Enemy Within. Before becoming a Director, he was an Assistant Director on features such as Denzel Washington’s Fences, Noah Baumbach’s Margot at the Wedding, Rick Famuyiwa’s Brown Sugar; and series including Blue BloodsAllegiance and Life on Mars. Oliver has been a DGA member since 1993 and serves as a current Co-Chair of the Eastern Diversity Steering Committee and has served as an alternate on the Eastern Directors Council.

Jono Oliver Michael I. Smith
Smith has over 25 years of experience in the film and television industry. He began his career as a DGA Trainee on projects such as Woody Allen’s Everyone Says I Love You, before becoming an Assistant Director with credits including feature films like Milos Forman’s Man on the Moon and Sidney Lumet’s Gloria; and episodes of The Sopranos and Hack. His directing credits include episodes of Law & Order: Criminal IntentSuitsWhite CollarBurn NoticeCovert AffairsHow to Get Away with MurderSatisfactionThe Mysteries of Laura and Law & Order: SVU. Smith has been a DGA member since 1996.

Michael I. Smith J. Miller Tobin
Tobin’s directorial filmography includes the feature film, How You Look to Me; and episodes of The Vampire DiariesKevin (probably) Saves the WorldCovert Affairs and Revenge; and he recently served as the Producer/Director on the ABC drama, Emergence. His Assistant Director resume includes features such as Al Pacino’s Chinese Coffee, Nancy Savoca’s The 24 Hour Woman and Agnieszka Holland’s Washington Square; and episodes of Oz and NYPD Blue. Tobin has been a DGA member since 1994 and served as an Alternate on the Eastern AD/UPM Council from 1998-2000.

About The Special Projects Committee

Special Projects is the educational and cultural arm of the Directors Guild of America, providing its members opportunities for creative exchange to advance their craft and celebrate the achievements of directors and their teams.

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